This is a fun game to play with intermediate to advanced classes to get them thinking and up out of their seats at the same time.
Before class, make a list of categories for your students. Categories could be foods, animals, drinks, types of transportation, and simple things like that. More advanced students can handle categories like “things you don’t want to see when you look under the bed”, “ways to kill someone”, and “bad excuses for not doing your English homework”.
To play, divide the class into teams. Each team has a space to write on the board, with numbers from one to six (or ten, if the team has enough members and you want to challenge them). The rules are that students must write as many words or phrases as they can that fit into the category provided. Each round ends when the first team has filled out all six (or ten) blanks with answers. Score one point for acceptable answers, and you can choose to give half points for iffy ones or put the answers up to a class vote.
A sample categories race that my class did. You can see some confusion about what finger foods are – a couple of students thought they were foods you could dip your fingers into. Also, the whole class argued that ham was better eaten with the fingers, so I gave them credit for it. And ice cream cones and bars are both held in the hand, so I accepted it reluctantly. This round was a tie.
For a large class, or to avoid total chaos, have students take turns running up to the board to write one word apiece for their team. In smaller classes, you can get away with having the whole class gathered around the board suggesting answers as one student on each team writes their team’s answers down.
A round takes only about three minutes in an active class, including time to evaluate the answers.
Categories suggestions for advanced students:
- Ways to kill someone
- Things you don’t want to see under your bed
- Foods you can eat with your fingers
- Words that describe our teacher
- Things you’d want in a husband
- Parts of the body
- Things you shouldn’t say to your mother
- Bad excuses for not doing your English homework
- Ways to make the class next door angry
- Things you shouldn’t teach your little brother
- Places to go on vacation with your friends
- Things you can’t explain to your grandmother
- Activities you avoid doing
- Things people criticize or complain about
- Things to do when you have time to kill and no smartphone